Hellraisers Journal: George Pettibone in Los Angeles, Gives Interview, Visits With Clarence Darrow at Hospital

There are no limits to which
powers of privilege will not go
to keep the workers in slavery.
-Mother Jones

Hellraisers Journal, Sunday January 12, 1908
Los Angeles, California – Pettibone On Labor Spies and Frame-Ups

From the Los Angeles Herald of January 11, 1908:


Man Accused of Complicity in Assassination
of Former Governor Steunenberg Gives
Interesting Opinions

HMP, Pettibone day of acquittal, crpd, Colliers Jan 25, 1908

Weak from long confinement in the jail at Boise, Idaho, where he was held a prisoner on a charge of complicity in the assassination oE former Governor Steunenberg, George A. Pettibone has arrived in Los Angeles and is staying at the Touraine apartments, 447 South Hope street.

In company with his wife, Mr. Pettibone contemplates making Los Angeles his permanent home. His trial attracted attention wherever the words “labor union” are known.

He spoke heatedly of the efforts which were made to connect him with the murder of Steunenberg.

[He said:]

False testimony concocted by Pinkerton agents was responsible for the arrest of William D. Haywood, Charles H. Moyer and myself and the sole purpose of their efforts was to give them an opening wedge so that they could retain their official position as agents of the Mine Owners’ association.

For years agents of the detective force had been employed by the mine owners, but in all cases where they attempted to fasten crimes upon members of the Western Federation they were unsuccessful.

This fact caused their employers to make many complaints, and at last they concocted the scheme which, they thought, would give them prestige and a sinecure for life.

Harry Orchard’s “confession” gave them their chance, and they were so confident of convicting us that Detective MePortland once stated that none of us would ever live to leave the state.

Machinations Futile

HMP, Mrs P, Pettibone, Haywood, Mrs M, Moyer, Pensacola Jr FL, May 17, 1907

It is not his fault that we are alive, or that I am in Los Angeles today. He, as well as other agents of the Pinkertons, did all in their power to prepare a way for us to the gallows. In their failure to convict us of crimes of which we were innocent the prestige the Pinkertons formerly enjoyed has decreased considerably, as the mine owners have no doubt come to the conclusion that they have been hoodwinked by this detective agency for many years.

The system of the Pinkertons was to convince the mire owners of the necessity of having Pinkerton “operatives” scattered throughout the mines, and to have as many of these spies as possible in the miners’ union.

Up to the time this system was put in operation the mine owners and their employes were never involved in disputes, but just as soon as the spies were employed in the mines the trouble commenced. This added to the revenue of the detective agency, as the mine owners would then have more “operatives” furnished them.

Many of these spies were professional “high graders,” and in addition to their salary from the Pinkertons robbed the mine owners of all the high grade ore they could possibly get away with. They never made the mistake of getting “company ore” for high grade ore, as some of them probably had more knowledge of ore than the average high salaried expert.

Witnesses Coached

During the Haywood trial the witnesses for the prosecution were coached by the Pinkertons, and in many cases were made to rehearse their testimony to these agents before going on the stand. This information was from a reliable source, and I firmly believe it to be true.

What will they do with Orchard? He probably will be turned loose, for it is not reasonable that a man would testify as he has done unless he was certain of being liberated. That Orchard killed Steunenberg there can be no doubt, as the former governor, so Orchard stated, was the cause of the latter selling out an interest in the Hercules mines in the Coeur d’Alene district in 1899, and later of his leaving Idaho.

Orchard was known to have remarked that he would “fix Steunenberg.”

Orchard has used the unwholesome notoriety he has gained by his “confessions” for commercial purposes, as he has written a book and sold an article to a magazine for which he received $1000.

It is a mistake to connect me with the Western Federation of Miners. Some people think I was formerly an officer of that organization, but this is an error. When the organization known as the “Gem Miners’ union” was formed in 1890 I was elected president. This was before the federation was formed. I am now an honorary member of the federation.

“How about the blowing up of the Independence depot in Colorado? Were the Pinkertons involved in that?” he was asked.

[He replied:]

Well, you ran draw your own conclusions. I don’t think there can be but one opinion, for soon after the explosion which wrecked the depot trained bloodhounds were brought to the scene of the disaster and immediately took the trail and followed it to a cabin. This cabin was the home of a detective who was in the employ of the mine owners.

Blames Detectives

Yes, I do not doubt that there are detectives concerned in the labor troubles at Goldfield, for wherever there is a miners’ union you can be sure that spies are there also.

I have been in ill health for some time, and it seemed to me that I never would recover. I suffered for some time with kidney trouble, then had an attack of pleurisy, a severe cold and almost every complaint I know of. I have felt much improved since I arrived in Los Angeles, and believe I will soon regain my health.

This is beautiful weather you have here, and if it continues this way I think I will remain in Los Angeles indefinitely.

When seen by a Herald reporter Mr. Pettibone was reclining on a couch. He is still weak from his recent illness. He had just returned from a visit to Clarence Darrow, who has been in Los Angeles for treatment for a mastoid growth, from which he is still suffering.

Mr. Darrow is improving slowly and was able to take a short walk today, but he is suffering considerably. We had a long talk and he made a joking remark that flowers were not necessary for my funeral, as I looked much better than the last time he saw me in Boise.

Mr. Pettibone is a good talker, and pleasant and sociable. His frank manner and straightforward way compel admiration. He has a good sense of humor and related many amusing anecdotes. He is optimistic and cheerful at all times.

Charles H. Moyer is not in Los Angeles and not likely to come here, according to Mr. Pettibone. He remained in Boise, where he will straighten up his affairs, after which he will leave for Denver. He is still president of the Western Federation of Miners.

Since Moyer’s absence from Colorado this duty as president has been performed by Vice President Mahoney, who has been acting president of the federation


[Photographs added.]


Los Angeles Herald
(Los Angeles, California)
-Jan 11, 1908

HMP, Pettibone day of acquittal, Colliers Jan 25, 1908
HMP, Mrs P, Pettibone, Haywood, Mrs M, Moyer,
-Pensacola Jr FL, May 17, 1907

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Tag: George Pettibone